Alistair Appleton is property-hunting with a couple returning to the UK from Italy. With a healthy budget, they are hoping to find a property in Dorset.
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This working farm is the only dairy in the world that produces this
scrumptious cheese, which shares its name with the county we are in today.
It's going to be a cheese-tastic Escape To The Country.
'In today's show, I'll help a couple say arrivederci to the Italian Lakes
'and repatriate to England's green and pleasant land, and it's obvious who's on a tight leash.'
I could actually get all five dogs in here and if you are lucky you can join us too.
-She's all heart, isn't she?
-All heart, isn't she, yes.
I am a person who likes to know what's going on in my house.
There's going to be no escaping her.
'But perhaps the mystery property will get us out of the dog house.'
Today we are in Dorset and it's the Friesian cows on this farm that produce Dorset Blue Vinny cheese,
which died absolutely at the end of the Second World War
and was resurrected on this very farm 30 years ago.
It's a great example of the ancient and the modern coming together
as it so often does in this wonderful county. Off we go, Richard.
Dorset is positioned on the south coast and though only 50 miles
across at its widest point it packs a pretty punch for its diminutive size.
The temptation is to dwell on the country's spectacular 95 mile stretch that makes up the Jurassic coast.
But beyond its beaches and cliffs lies a county rich in unspoilt countryside from the chalk down lands
of Cranborne Chase to the rich dairy pastures of Blackmore Vale.
And its market towns are steeped in history such as Dorchester,
the county town since 1305 and inspiration for Thomas Hardy's Casterbridge.
Locally-quarried Portland and Purbeck stone is abundant in Dorset's housing stock -
olde world thatched cottages are typical,
but the manor and farmhouses are a reminder of its rich agricultural heritage.
There's not a single mile of motorway in Dorset,
which makes it a particularly attractive option for those who like peace and quiet in their countryside.
When you get to the east of the county you are closer to London
and you can commute and that pushes up the house prices.
So, on the border of Hampshire, for example, an average detached house
will cost you £50,000 more than one in the centre of the county.
But, as you are about to see
there is plenty of beautiful property wherever you look.
£750,000 would buy you a scheduled ancient monument in the form of
this three bedroomed tithe barn in Cerne Abbas.
The original cruck beamed roof soars through the main reception room and the light interior glows throughout.
With a recording suite and offices in the outbuildings
it will really strike a chord with musicians wanting a live/work space.
This four bedroomed house in Poole dates back to 1870
but has been much extended and could be yours for £650,000.
The open plan living area flows from the kitchen with breakfast bar
through to an impressive glazed dining area with a terrace that leads out to extensive gardens.
For £399,000 this three bedroomed thatched cottage in Osmington is a real surprise inside
with light flooding through its sitting room and not a beam in sight in the open plan kitchen/dining area.
And, the conservatory extension offers up another generous space for relaxing.
As you can see property buyers in Dorset really are spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful views,
but unfortunately our house buyers today have REALLY been spoilt when it comes to views. Let's meet them.
Today's buyers are high fliers, Joe, a retired pilot, and Marilyn, an ex marketing director.
Love was in the air 12 years ago when they met at Heathrow airport and for the last six years
they've lived in the hills overlooking Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy.
It seems like a dream come true so why on earth do they want to
sell their five bedroom villa and settle back in rural Blighty?
I stopped working a year ago when I retired and...
I feel I need something to do which I can't do around here, partly because of the language issue,
partly just because of the way of life here.
We're approaching our "twilight years"
and we have that feeling we'd like to move back to what is the more familiar,
and that for us is home which we regard as the UK.
'So, it's chocks away but where are they hoping to touch down?'
We want to move somewhere in the south of England because
we would like to enjoy the slightly warmer weather.
The sun is very important to me because I grew up in
the West Indies and the Far East. I love hot climates and plenty of sun.
'And they certainly want to soak up the best of what the community has to offer in the countryside.'
I'm not really a city dweller. I much prefer the open spaces,
being able to go for walks, woods, parkland.
If we could find a nice small village,
that would really suit me.
You're always reading about villages where the pubs and shops and post offices are
shutting down, or the only way they can be kept going is by volunteers.
So, that's the sort of thing I'd like to get involved in if we could find a place that needed that.
-Especially volunteering at the local pub.
-Yes, very important.
'And for the grand homecoming they have a long wish list for their perfect property.'
Our next house must have four bedrooms, a large master bedroom with a full en suite.
A house with a real wow factor,
a beautiful garden that's easily manageable,
a couple of extra acres, where we might be able to keep some animals, and it must have a stunning view.
Also if the house had a separate studio or conservatory
for me to do my painting in that would be a real added bonus.
Yes. It can be old, it can be new, we don't really care too much
and certainly inside we are not looking for any special features.
But, there's even more to factor in.
Having five dogs and three cats sitting around you late in the evening,
enjoying the fire, it would be so much better if we could have a larger living room.
Out of necessity, because Marilyn can only make banana sandwiches and
I hate bananas, the kitchen is my domain.
So, ideally what I would like is a large country style kitchen with a big island in the middle.
Well, in Italy on Lake Maggiore you either get the views or you get the sun, you can't have both.
In our case we chose the view but next time I think it's very
important we get everything right and have the view and the sun.
How are Joe and Marilyn planning to spend their time once they move back?
During the summer I'd like to go around the steam fairs, steam railway preservation societies
and that's something I'd like to volunteer towards as well if possible.
And I certainly need the space to walk five dogs.
Marilyn loves dogs, I tolerate them.
Five dogs for me is too many.
'It's a gargantuan wish list but do they have the budget to match?'
We are looking for a property around the million pound mark.
If we did come across something that was perfect in every way,
we could probably increase that by another £100,000 or so.
Because the Euro is very strong against the pound it's a very good time for us to move back to England.
The great thing about this show is that it's not just buying a house for
Marilyn and Joe but also organising a homecoming back into English culture.
Now, on the property front they want massive views and vistas and lots of space but they do have a big budget.
The one thing that slightly worries me is sun worshipping Joe, but he'll be happy to know
that Dorset, with 1,626 hours of sunshine per year, is the second sunniest county in the UK.
So, with magnificent views in mind we'll be focusing our search inland from Shaftesbury in the north,
straying just over the border into East Devon.
We'll be seeking out and showing them the best country properties the area has to offer,
and I'll be asking them to guess the price of each house before revealing it to them.
And lastly, there's our mystery house which will definitely put village life on their radar.
Welcome back to England or benvenuti as I should say.
Oh, it's so nice.
Can't speak any more Italian though because we are back
into the English countryside and the beautiful English weather.
You must be so missing this?
Oh, yes, like a hole in the head.
We'll get to why you're moving back to England in a minute,
but first things first how much money have we got to spend?
Well, we were thinking of 1.1 million
if we saw something absolutely spectacular and fell in love with it
we could squeeze in possibly 1.2.
Now, in terms of the property I know you've got a lovely
fluffy white family to accommodate as well as your two lovely selves.
They are definitely coming with you presumably?
Oh, absolutely, we couldn't leave the family behind.
So, space for the dogs and cats, but what else?
Well, we've got a challenge for you because, as you've probably heard,
we have a fantastic view and if you can come up with something like this,
you'll be doing fantastically well.
We should be in Cumbria if you want a view like this really, we don't have lakes down in the south.
Don't you have that in Dorset(?)
-We've got some lovely houses lined up because you have a beautiful budget. So, let's go.
Joe and Marilyn have a grand budget of up to £1.2 million
for their English country house, which, along with the wow factor,
needs to include a large lounge that can accommodate Marilyn's five dogs,
a huge kitchen for Joe, four bedrooms with a master en suite,
an artist's studio, and a couple of acres of land.
And, lest we forget, glorious views to rival those they enjoyed in Italy.
You, Joe, you've been a real globetrotter not just in your pilot
career but also in your childhood you were all over the place, weren't you?
Yes, I was born in Kent but I moved to Jamaica when I was one year old.
So, you don't have that childhood response to English countryside?
No, no, I have very little experience of it.
I love the sun, sand and sea and blue skies but unfortunately Marilyn
can't stand the heat so I'm having to make a compromise on this one.
So you are not going to complain too much about the fact that it's cloudy and wet in England.
I'm sure I will, privately... but I'll make the most of it.
But I probably won't listen, anyway.
'For our first property we couldn't resist hopping just over
'the border into East Devon to the village of Wick.
'It's set within the Blackdown Hills, an area of outstanding beauty.
'Just up the road the village of Upottery gains a mention in the Domesday Book and, with its 15th
'century church and pub, it would give Joe and Marilyn the true English homecoming they are hoping for.
'Set into the hillside is this Grade Two listed extended farmhouse.'
Keep going and we are going to turn around about now and get the view!
-Sacre bleu, a eureka moment.
Very nice, very nice.
Well, let's look at the house.
It's an old property, bits of it date back to the 1500s and it's thatched. What do you feel about thatched?
I don't really know much about it at all and I believe it's supposed
to be fireproofed these days for insurance purposes.
The thing is for you, realistically, you don't need to know anything about thatch
because it was re-thatched five years ago and typically a thatch has about 35, 40 years in it.
It costs on average about £1,000 a year to insure it but it is great insulation, it's green.
-Let's get inside.
'Well, you couldn't get a more typically English country property and although it's not
'the mountains of Lake Maggiore it's still pretty hilly for England.
'Let's see if they can squeeze their four legged family in here.'
Come into the main living space.
This is very nice.
-Look at that fireplace, terrific!
-Can you imagine the dogs there?
I could actually get all five dogs in here and if you're lucky you can join us too.
-She's all heart, isn't she?
-All heart, isn't she, yes.
You can start to see the history here,
these beams would have been from the original 16th century cottage.
-I like it, very nice.
-So, it's nice and light.
You've got light coming in from both sides,
you've got French windows over here and another door into the garden.
So, is it a good size for you, Joe?
It's an excellent size. The one thing I've got concerns about is
that it doesn't actually look over the view of the valley.
Well, due to the effects of geometry not every side of the house can face the view,
-but there there are lots of lovely views.
-Unless it rotated.
-But it is south west facing which I know is a plus for you.
-A plus, yes.
Let's take a look at some of those other rooms.
'Leading off the hall is a separate good sized dining room,
'with stone fireplace and wood burner, which flows through into the kitchen.'
Here's our first exposure to the view.
It's not the most massive kitchen, but is it a space you could work with?
I think what I'd do is just rip the whole lot out and rebuild it.
What's great is you've got a fantastic utility room on a different level,
so you've got the washing machine, lots of space, lots of storage.
And is that access to outside?
-And that's access to outside so that's great for the animals.
Although this property is listed, in this particular instance they could,
subject to planning, extend the kitchen out over one floor.
This farmhouse may have more historic features than you can shake a stick at but it's light and open
with generously sized rooms which they seem to like. Let's hope the upstairs measures up.
We've got four bedrooms on this floor.
This is one of the really good sized ones, not the master.
It's a good size. Really is. Nice room.
I'd like to show you the master, the master is the other end.
'On the way to the master we pass another bedroom,
'a bright double, great for guests or as a possible study.
'At the end of the landing is the fourth bedroom which they could convert into a dressing room
'as it's next door to the modern family bathroom.
'And their bedroom is on the other side.'
This is the master.
So, you can lie in bed with the view.
-It's not the biggest room, the other room is slightly bigger, but this is the killer view.
And you've got a very nice en suite as well.
But, that's not the only space we have.
We've done upstairs but there's always outside.
'I've got a treat in store for Joe, as the dogs have the living room
'perhaps it's only fair he gets to play in the barn.'
Ah-ha, you wanted a study, you wanted a studio.
Oh, wow. Take your pick.
It's great light because of the skylight. It's perfect for painting.
And you've got this view as well, so you can be inspired by the landscape.
Yes, it's a wonderful place, yes.
-Could it work?
-I think it certainly good, yes.
I don't think it would work for me as a study because it's hard enough to lure myself into the study
and do a bit of work anyway when it's right next to the living room.
I'd really want my study to be as close as possible to where
the focal point of the house, where it's all going on.
Well, that's fine, there's all the more space for me and my painting and my train set.
Let's go outside for the final time and let's think about price.
'Next to the house there's another large barn with a potting shed also included in the sale.
'But, we'll take a stroll back and survey all that could be theirs.'
So, here we are back to the beginning where we started the whole tour of your property.
All told it's two and a half acres.
It's really beautiful and I love this walkway around here,
-it's a very nice feature.
-So, what do you think it's worth?
I would think it would absolutely have to be at the top end of our budget,
so I put it at £1.2 million, I think.
Yes, I think it would be close to that, I'll go at £1.19.
A bit more optimistic.
Well, you can both be much more optimistic because this property is on the market for £975,000.
Well, that's great because it gives us some money to play with to do some extensions.
Of course, the alterations, the improvements we would
like to do, they could all be encompassed within our budget.
-Ooh, great enthusiasm.
Walk round and think about what you'd like
to spend that extra £200,000 and I'll see you at the front.
-OK, we will do that, thank you,
-That way, mind yourselves on the steps.
That's a good response because they are demanding clients and I think that we've...
supplied something that fits their brief and it's a beautiful property
and it would be a great entrance back into English countryside living.
Under budget at £975,000 this farmhouse offers them a large living room with wood burner for the dogs to
curl up in front of, a large bright kitchen with scope for an extension,
four bedrooms with a master en suite.
Outbuildings with plenty space for Joe's studio and model steam trains,
and over two and a half acres of land
with views to rival those they have in Lake Maggiore.
It's a beautiful country view, don't you think?
Yeah, if you can imagine this in summer it would be a great place to sit on the lawn overlook the view.
It would be wonderful, absolutely wonderful.
It's England at its best, I think.
I think the setting is wonderful.
I love the woods, the country lanes, the view, perfect, really like it.
I absolutely surprised myself.
When I saw I thought, "Oh, my God, it's going to be a dinky little cottage inside",
but it has so many interesting nooks and crannies and magical little places,
especially outside in the immediate surrounding gardens, that I really feel quite enchanted with the place.
The ground floor was excellent, the upstairs, sadly in my opinion, let it down.
The office space is excellent I can turn that into a wonderful studio and, for me, it's perfect.
You've also got all these outhouses, these stables.
You wanted to rescue some donkeys, right?
Yes, it would be quite a good idea have a donkey or two.
-Yes, great idea.
-No end to the possibilities of this property.
As the day draws to a close over the Dorset hills, it marks the end of the first day of our property search.
Joe and Marilyn are ready to leave the Italian Lakes
and make a grand entrance back into English country life.
For £1.2 million they want to find a property where they can live in the lap of luxury with their five dogs.
Can our properties impress them?
-This is just a hall?
-This is your hall.
-Wow, fabulous kitchen.
That was a wow and a fabulous, Joe.
Or will they be seduced by the charms of our mystery house?
Dairy farming plays a major role in Dorset life and during the week I was up with the lark.
It's five in the morning and I'm at Woodbridge Farm, just outside Sturminster Newton,
which is a farm in Dorset with a difference as we will find out,
and, of course, for farmers they've been up for hours anyway.
This family-run dairy farm is the county's, in fact the world's, only producer of the age old
Dorset Blue Vinny cheese, having revived the recipe some 40 years ago.
I'm spending the morning with the man responsible,
farmer and cheese maker, Mike Davies, to learn what makes it so exceptional.
Tell me about the Blue Vinny.
Blue Vinny has been made in Dorset for hundreds of years.
It was one of the cheeses that was banned in the last war because they
wanted to make all the cheese into cheddar type cheeses, hard cheeses, for easy transportation.
To make cheese you need milk and I see a fantastic herd, can we go and see them being milked?
Yes, we can do.
'Since 1998 Mike's Blue Vinny cheese has held
'Protected Geographical Indication, or PGI status,
'and is one of only 13 English cheeses to be awarded this by the EU.
'As Camembert can only come from Normandy and Edam from Holland,
'PGI status safeguards a local food's heritage, its link to a specific area and its unique properties.
'Time to check out its key ingredient.'
So, this is the, do we call it a milking parlour still?
Yes, milking parlour, yes.
-And how many times a day do they get milked?
Twice a day. So, how much does an average cow produce?
Well, Richard has got this herd milking really well
and they're producing, on average, about 50 litres a day.
-One cow produces 50 litres?
Who knew? So much milk from one cow.
-This all turns into cheese.
-Shall we go and look at the cheese?
'This hand skimmed cheese is tricky to make as the taste of
'the unpasteurised milk is affected by factors
'such as what the cows are fed and even weather conditions.
'Time to get a whiff of these cheeses halfway through their eight week maturing process in the store.'
So, this is Blue Vinny HQ.
-Yes, this is where it all goes on, Alistair.
-Quite a strong smell.
Yes, well, all the cheese are breathing and they are all living.
-As am I.
-You might say.
Typically the blue starts outside and goes in.
No, no, in actual fact although they've got a slight blue coat
the best cheeses we make are when the blue comes from the middle outwards.
Do I ever get to taste it or do I just smell it?
No, you can taste it, we'll go up to the farmhouse.
-I'm going to be smelling of it all morning.
-You are, yes.
'So, at last it's back to the farmhouse for a sliver of Dorset Blue for breakfast.'
So, here's my first ever Dorset Vinny.
Special, a special occasion then, Alistair.
Mm, delicious. So, in a way you've kind of, you've resurrected the cheese.
Yeah, I have, it had definitely died and we have definitely resurrected it, yeah.
It must be a nice feeling.
Yes, I mean you tend to get a bit blase about it, but yes, when I stop and think
sometimes, you think to yourself what have you done with your life,
and you think, "oh, yes, I reinvented the Dorset Blue Vinny".
-So that gives me a bit of kick.
-And very tasty it is too.
'Well, thanks to Mike's contribution an important part
'of Dorset's food and farming heritage is now alive again for years to come.
'Joe, Marilyn and I are heading to the village of Hooke, some 30 miles away from Shaftesbury.
'But they would still be a ten minute drive from the perfect sauntering territory of Beaminster,
'with its historical centre, now a conservation area lined with some 200 listed Georgian and Tudor buildings.
'And set in the unspoilt countryside is this farmhouse, currently run as a bed and breakfast.'
The sun is shining on us today because we've got a beautiful property to show you.
Very excited about this one.
As you can see, a former farmyard, but actually only from the turn of
the century, 1906 it was all built, but it was completely remodelled in 2001, so nine years ago.
-But I really want to show you the inside of the house, that's the treat.
'This house has a grand symmetry about it and I think the stylish interior will amaze them.'
This is possibly the grandest hallway I've ever shown.
This is just a hall?
-This is your hall.
-It's a great size, isn't it, fantastic.
And you can see what they've done in this incredible renovation to the property.
They've added all this length and all this open space to the sides.
I like the fact you have visibility straight through to the kitchen.
-I really like it.
-It's grand, isn't it?
Wait until you see these.
-Here we've got the beautiful sitting room.
-What a fabulous room.
-Isn't it great?
-South facing so flooded with light, and an open fire.
-Big open fire.
-Big open fire, nice focal point.
And I must say these see-through doors are an excellent idea.
I am a person who likes to know what's going on in my house.
There's going to be no escaping her now!
Ah, but actually there is because you can hide here in the little snug.
-And don't think he won't.
-Which is beautiful, which could also work as your study.
It's got a log burner.
Yes, perfect size actually.
I hope there's a key to lock the door with.
So you really can escape.
Yes, there's a back exit, I'll block that.
But isn't this a great space, this makes me want to just kind of sprawl out.
-It's a great room.
-Joe, wait till you see the kitchen.
'Joe's been a man of few words so far let's see if he heats up in here.'
-Wow, fabulous kitchen.
That was a wow and a fabulous.
This is a great kitchen.
-Wonderful, wonderful, like the skylight too.
-Yes, let in more light.
So, this was the barn, that was the end of the house originally,
so this was the barn that they linked into the building and turned into this fabulous kitchen.
So, what do you think?
I love it. Yeah, it's really, really good.
I like the fact that there's room for circulation
so we won't get the bottlenecks that we currently experience.
-"Can't you move those dogs?"
And you've got a fantastic walk-in pantry and then another huge,
sort of utility room there which will knock your socks off.
Let's take a look upstairs because that's also important for you.
'Well, they've been so captivated by downstairs that they seem to have forgotten about the views.
'We'll head upstairs now and explore this property's five bedrooms which are spread over two floors.'
Does the master bedroom match up to the kitchen?
It's a good size, I like it already.
It's nice and bright and good amount of wardrobe space, it's a good start.
Lovely light as well, you've got south facing windows and another window over the garden.
And, a massive en suite with a double shower, his and hers sinks and a bathtub.
-Didn't short change you on this house, Marilyn.
-Does it fit the bill?
-It certainly does so far, yes.
'On this floor there's also a twin room with light streaming in
'and a large double room used as a B&B guest room right next to the family bathroom.
'Up on the second floor is the fourth bedroom, a single in the eaves with an en suite.'
This is another room they use for bed and breakfast
because it's a beautifully self contained little suite.
All the bedrooms bar one have en suite.
It's a really interesting room, isn't it?
-I love the beams.
I love houses with sort of interesting features like this room.
This could definitely be, you could have this as your office space
although there is a considerable number of outhouses outside.
'This impressive farmhouse would really launch Joe and Marilyn into English country living in a big way.
'There's certainly scope for projects galore in these outhouses dating back to when the house was built.
'There's a long barn, long indeed, stretching over 170 feet
'and an enormous main barn which Joe could fit a whole train station into.
'At the back of it is another ready-made space for him.'
-Look what they've got at the end.
-Ah, a studio.
-An artist's studio.
Obviously when all this stuff has gone you could practically turn the whole thing into a studio.
Yes, yes, I think it's got great prospects.
All of these outhouses are projects really, so you need to go around and scratch your head
and see what you could do with them but there's enormous potential.
And if you don't use them all, that's obviously not the end of the world.
But let me show you the full extent of the land.
'And there's plenty of it.
'Nine and a half acres in total, with paddocks, gardens and even a tennis court.'
It's a big parcel of land with some amazing outbuildings and a beautiful property.
How much do you think it's worth?
Well, I was wrong yesterday,
but I feel it's absolutely the top end of our budget, £1.2 million.
Yes, I think I've got to go along with Marilyn,
it's got to be very close to our budget, maybe just below £1.2.
Now, you're being over optimistic because it is actually right on your budget, £1.2 million.
And I think a great deal for that price because you get
an awful lot of property for it and some beautifully maintained house.
So, have a look because there's a lot to think about.
Have a wander round and if you can find your way back to the car...! When you hear the whistle...
-We'll take our satnav with us.
-Exactly. Meet me back in the yard.
-All right, thank you.
'Priced at the very top of their budget at £1.2 million
'this magnificent farmhouse certainly has the wow factor they were looking for.
'Featuring grand reception areas with space for their pets to sprawl out,
'an enormous kitchen/breakfast room which Joe loved,
'five bedrooms with four en suite and an array of outbuildings
'set in nine and a half acres of land.
'But is the prospect of so much house and land too daunting?'
-So, what do you think of this barn?
-It's certainly a very big barn.
I'm slightly concerned about the extent of all the outbuildings.
Yeah, there is rather a lot, isn't there?
It would be very easy to imagine myself living here, particularly on this level.
I would have to exclude the outbuildings,
which are scaring me a bit in terms of their enormity,
but certainly I would feel very much at home in this house.
I'm just imagining a roaring fire,
Farouche and Zara here,
we can have Ulysses and Aurora next to you
and dear old Trevor in front of the fire.
He'd love it there, yes.
I love it, I really do.
It doesn't look that much from the outside, but inside
it's absolutely fantastic and the kitchen is out of this world.
Setting is a little disappointing,
not much of a view but...
I think we can work with it.
-You found it?
-I laid a little trail of breadcrumbs to get you back.
-We did notice.
-There's a lot to look at.
-An awful lot, yes.
-There certainly is.
-But, now it's time to move on.
-Oh, slave driver.
We've given Marilyn and Joe big land and big views.
Now, I think it's time to test the water and see how
committed they are to community when they move back to England.
So, for the mystery house we've come to a village.
Our mystery house takes us three miles from Shaftesbury to Motcombe,
set in beautiful open countryside and peppered with gorgeous properties.
But this is no sleepy village, it has a dynamic soul with
a community-run post office and village store and regular events staged at the village hall.
And our mystery property puts them right at the heart of all this.
Come onto the lawn.
Let's check out this mystery house and see what it makes you think.
Well, it's different.
It's different, it's meant to be different.
The reason we've brought you to this house is because of where it is.
You mentioned that you really wanted to be part of the community and get involved with village life.
-All the properties we've shown you so far have been very remote.
So, the mystery house is in the middle of a very desirable village.
It's a great little slice of England.
Let me tell you a little bit about the history because it's quite interesting.
These three cottages at the end were three separate dwellings, the last of which was the village post office
and this was a workshop, a wheelwright and a coffin maker's.
And you'll see inside again how the renovations have worked.
-Shall we take a peek?
-Yes, thank you.
'Well, from the outside our mystery house is certainly an intriguing mix of historic buildings
'and the sum of its parts makes for a beautifully spacious home.
'Let's see if Joe and Marilyn are captivated by its charm inside.'
So, this is actually the most modern part of the house,
joining up the two bits and straight into your realm, Joe.
-I think this is a contender for a nice kitchen.
Oh, very nice, I like it.
It's almost actually quadruple aspect, you feel like the sun is coming in from everywhere.
-Very lovely through the window.
-And lovely flagstone flooring.
You can see they've spent a lot of money on this.
It's a super hi-tech kitchen, can you imagine working in here?
-And under floor heating.
-Oh, that works really well.
'And I bet they love what's to follow.'
Ta-da! This is the sitting room.
-Brilliant. I love it.
I love the high ceiling and the beams, really nice.
You get under floor heating under these beautiful floorboards.
Really? Now that's a huge plus for us actually.
-Yes. This is the main lounge?
-This is the main lounge although there is more to see later on.
Also you notice there's absolutely double, triple glazing in places,
to keep the noise from the road, once you're in you don't actually hear it.
You can't hear a thing.
'We'll go back through the kitchen to the old wing of the cottage where
'there's a smaller, cosier beamed sitting room, off which is a nice bright study for Marilyn.
'If she's worried about low beams, she has nothing to fear next door
in the original post office, now one of the four bedrooms.'
You see here they've painted the beam white.
-Yes, that works.
-It makes a difference.
It's actually still about the same height.
Here is a nice detail, this was the door to the post office.
-And again it's got a nice en suite.
So, this is essentially a little guest wing.
-Again I'm very impressed with this.
-I'm silently evaluating.
I have to wait until my opinion crystallises. I need more time.
It takes a while for it all to sink in.
-Would it help if we see upstairs?
-I think so, yes.
'Our mystery house may be three dwellings in one,
'but each part has been extremely well renovated and keeps its individuality.
'Upstairs off the light spacious landing is a small single,
'currently decked out with bunk beds, and a bright double room.
'Next door, there's a modern family bathroom
'and at the other end of the landing we find their sleeping quarters.'
-Oh, very nice, yes.
Simple but effective, yes, I like it very much.
Lots of space, and then for you, Marilyn...
lots of hanging space, a dressing room.
-Oh, good, someone's finally thinking of me.
And that little cupboard's for you there, Joe.
You're too kind(!) And that's about all I will be given, I'm sure.
-But a very nice en suite actually, double shower.
And good views out of the window.
Out of the window is where we go next as we have a garden to explore.
And the sun's even shining.
'I think this much extended house offers up a surprising treat
'inside with lots of room, space and light on both floors.
'Let's see what they make of outside.'
Unlike some of the properties I have been showing this has not
got acres and acres of land, this is what they call a manageable garden.
Yes, it's a very convenient size, isn't it?
It's been very nicely done, I have to say.
What do you think it's worth?
Oh, good question, I'm going to take a stab at about
just over £1 million.
I'd say just under £1 million.
-Well, it's on the market for £825,000.
It's been on the market for one week
and I think it's going to be in high demand.
-It probably will be.
So, have a look around as usual and I'll meet you around the front.
Wonderful, that was a good experiment because it could have backfired horribly
because it's really not what they were asking since there are no views.
But I do think it's a very valid point that if you want to come back
to England and you want to integrate, you've got to have neighbours.
This place has neighbours.
So, coming in nearly £400,000 under their budget at £825,000 our enchanting mystery house offers them
a beautiful airy sitting room with high ceilings and period features,
a large bespoke kitchen, four bedrooms with two en suite,
and just under an acre of garden
all set in the heart of a village community.
The house in fact is much more charming inside than at first appearance from the outside.
So, I was very pleasantly surprised.
I love this room. In fact I could be happy in the whole house.
I like the house very much.
The garden is very good, easy to manage.
The one thing I have against it is the proximity of other houses to it.
The lack of a view is disappointing
because obviously it is nice to have a feature to look out onto but it's not something that's insurmountable.
What do you think, think you could live here?
Yes, the aspects I thought I wouldn't like I actually do.
I'm happy with the garden, I'm happy not to have an enormous garden, I'm quite happy with the view from here.
All right, that is your lot, time to put your thinking caps on.
'Well, Joe and Marilyn's house search has reached its final destination.
'There is no doubt it's given them a lot to think about.'
So, the weather has stayed consistently English
for our Italian home buyers and they've braved it, good on them.
Time now to find out which of the houses they liked best.
Allora, now is the moment where we look back over the properties we have seen,
-starting with the house with the stunning views.
-They were stunning, yes.
Very, very nice indeed and a beautiful house particularly the ground floor layout.
The gardens were wonderful.
What let it down for us was the upstairs, the bedrooms, very, very little storage space at all.
And it did feel a little bit isolated.
Can I ask about land at this point with the farmhouse because that was a big, big plot of land.
-It was a stunning house. I just fell in love with it completely.
Everything about it I loved.
I didn't mind the outbuildings either I could probably have
found something to do with those, but I think the one thing that did put us off was the nine acres.
The mystery house was interesting in that it didn't have much land to speak of.
It had a nice garden and it was a sort of curved ball in the sense it wasn't isolated.
What were your thoughts about that?
The amount of land it had was slightly less than we were looking
for, but it did have a very nice garden and again a beautiful house.
Fell in love with it right away as well,
but what really is a problem with that one is it's overlooked
and it's also very close to a road with a lot of traffic noise.
And although the house was isolated from the noise inside, outside it was quite noisy.
And what did you think, Marilyn, about the concept
of being in a village as opposed to being out on a windswept hill?
I think that particular village because it had a very
good community spirit, I certainly would like to look into that more.
Is there any one that stands out as a definite contender?
Oh, the farmhouse was absolutely wonderful.
The farmhouse for sure. Stunning house.
If we could just pick it up and move it somewhere else it would be great.
-I know we can't.
-Losing those outbuildings in the process.
-A barn's dropped off.
Well, it's been wonderful.
You've both been very game coming from the sunny climes of Italy to brave the elements here.
So, thanks very much and I wish you the best and I hope it all happens very swiftly.
Thank you for helping us with our learning curve.
-Yes, thank you, Alistair, it's been great.
I'm not entirely sure we've convinced Marilyn and Joe to move back to rainy old England,
but I think we did do a very good job of showing them some beautiful properties
and perhaps alerting them to the fact that they don't really need all the land they were hoping to get,
and without that land they could probably get a beautiful house in their budget.
So, I think all round a pretty good job on quite an unusual brief.
And if you want to see more happy house hunters looking at
beautiful property in the beautiful English countryside,
then join us next time for more Escape To The Country.
Now as Marilyn and Joe would doubtless say, arrivederci.
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Alistair Appleton is property-hunting with a couple returning to the UK from Italy. With a healthy budget, they are hoping to find a property in Dorset to rival their current lakeside villa. Alistair also visits the only dairy in the world that makes Dorset blue vinny cheese.